Whether you are exploring somewhere for the very first time, or know a place so well that it’s like a second home, it’s always important to know where to eat. If you know your East Sussex geography, visiting Lewes should be top of your list. Lewes is the county’s capital town. It’s packed with things to do, but most importantly, plenty of choices when it comes to food.
Lewes has a wide range of independent restaurants and cafes suitable for all budgets and times of day. You’ll find food from across the world, including Europe and Asia. From tasty Thai treats to flavoursome French food, there are many answers to the question of where to eat in Lewes.
Asian food in Lewes
Shanaz of Lewes, 83 High Street
Rated no.1 on TripAdvisor’s list of Asian restaurants in Lewes, Shanaz is home to authentic Indian cuisine. There is a good reason it tops that list – Shanaz employs a chef who has over thirty years experience in the Indian restaurant trade, so whether you fancy a curry or rice dish, you are guaranteed an exquisite Indian meal and high customer service for a decent price (most items are under £10, with only the meat dishes going slightly over). Vegetarians and vegans are catered for, as well as gluten-free diets.
Opening times are from 5.30-9.45pm from Sunday to Thursday; Fridays and Saturdays are from 5.30-10.45pm. Tables can be reserved or takeaways can be ordered via telephone (01273 488028) or online at the https://www.shanazlewes.co.uk/.
Beijing Restaurant, 13 Fisher Street
The clue is kinda in the name, but in case you needed reminding, Beijing Restaurant is where to eat in Lewes for Chinese food. Family-run and employing highly-experienced chefs, Beijing Restaurant prides itself on its extensive range of top-quality Chinese meals at affordable prices (most of the dishes are under £10, some under £5!). Beijing Restaurant serves vegetarian dishes so those looking for a meat-free meal are guaranteed a wide choice of tasty food, whether they wish to eat in or out – thanks to a separate restaurant and takeaway menu.
Open every day except Tuesday; each day opens at 5pm and closes at 10pm (Sunday to Thursday) and 10.30pm (Fridays and Saturdays). To view the menu or make enquiries, see https://www.beijinglewes.co.uk/ or call 01273 487633.
Pailin Thai Restaurant, 19-20 Station Road
Fans of Thai food, this one is for you. With an a la carte and a set menu available, as well as a quick lunch menu, Pailin caters for whatever meal you feel like, whether you fancy a Thai lunch or dinner. Most of the dishes are under or just over £10, except the fish dishes (which near £20), so diners can enjoy delicious Thai food without breaking the bank. Being a two-minute walk away from Lewes train station, hungry travellers have the advantage of Pailin being on their doorstep.
Open every day except Monday, Pailin’s opening times are 12-2.30pm and 5.30-10pm (Tuesdays to Saturdays) and 12-2.30pm and 6-10pm (Sundays). For more information, call 01273 473906 or visit http://www.pailin-thai-lewes.co.uk/home.html.
British food in Lewes
Fork Lewes, 14 Station Road
Described by the Guardian’s Grace Dent as having a heart bursting with ambition, Fork is a Sussex restaurant through and through. Its fruit, vegetables, meats and cheeses hail from local farms and its fish is fresh off the sea in nearby Newhaven. Adam Paice, the head chef, was born and raised in Sussex. How much more Sussexian could you get? With a lunch, dinner and Sunday lunch menu, alongside a drinks and wine list, Forks caters for vegetarians and adapts some dishes for vegans, though menus are seasonal and are liable to change depending on availability.
Open every day except Monday, Fork’s opening hours are 6-9.30pm (Tuesdays), 12-2.30pm and 6-9.30pm (Wednesdays to Saturdays) and 12-3pm (Sundays). Reservations can be made via calling 01273 809445 or emailing email@example.com.
Daisy’s Tea Room, Uckfield Road
With stunning views of the South Downs, afternoon tea does not really get much better than this. Better still, dogs are allowed, inside and outside! From full English breakfasts to homemade cakes and scones, Daisy’s menu caters for all appetites and diets. With most of the food items under £10 if not less than £5 (except for the afternoon tea for two at £26), Daisy’s is truly budget-friendly.
2023 opening times are Friday to Sunday, 9.30am-2.30pm – Daisy’s stops serving food at 2pm. Please ring 07375 926807 or visit https://www.encryptionescaperooms.co.uk/tearooms for more information.
Rights of Man, 179 High Street
The name of this pub derives from the fact that Thomas Paine used to live in Lewes. With a roof terrace, bar and dining area, Rights of Man sources its fish from Brighton, vegetables from Covent Garden and most of its produce from local markets and farms. There are five menus available: mains, sandwiches, tapas, desserts and, of course, Sunday Lunch from 12-5pm (booking here is essential).
Opening hours differ between the bar and kitchen. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit https://www.rightsofmanlewes.com/ or call 01273 486894.
European food in Lewes
Cote Brasserie Lewes, 82 High Street
Truth be told, Cote is a chain in restaurants that has sites all over the country, from Brighton and Bristol to Newcastle and Norwich to name but a few. Should lovers of French-inspired dining be in Lewes, they will surely not be disappointed with Cote’s range of classic dishes, which include tuna nicoise, moules frites and poulet breton. Prices are a little high – the rib-eye steak for sharing, for example, is £59.95 (don’t worry, the other meals are a bit cheaper), so this might be better for those who can afford to spare the cash or for a special occasion. Cote is where to eat in Lewes if you want a luxurious meal out.
For more information, to make or amend reservations, or to make enquiries, please visit https://www.cote.co.uk/contact-us/.
Rustico, 10 Fisher Street
Home to Neapolitan street food “just like Nonna used to make”, Rustico has eight eateries across Sussex: the other sites are Battle, Bexhill, Brighton, Eastbourne, Hailsham, Hastings and Hove. Rustico opened its doors to Lewes in 2020.
Italian food lovers will delight at the wide range of pizza and pasta dishes available, catering for carnivores and herbivores, vegans and those on dairy-free and gluten-free diets. Rustico’s Rapido Menu offers one dish for £4.95 and, on their Crazy Pizza Deal, all pizzas cost £9.50 (provided you order and collect on Sunday-Thursday from 12-9pm). Otherwise, their main menu offers delicious food at decent prices that are mostly under £10. It is where to eat in Lewes for budget-friendly Italian cuisine.
Rustico is open every day, though hours vary depending on which site you visit and differ for dining in, deliveries and collections. Lewes Rustico is open every day – dining in hours are 4-10pm on Mondays to Tuesdays and 12-10pm on Wednesdays to Saturdays.
For more information, please ring 01273 395595, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://hellorustico.co.uk/index.shtml
Squisito, the Old Needlemakers
To those who would rather dine in an independent restaurant than a chain, panic not. Squisito, which launched in late 2022, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner – the latter two menus comprising Italian-style dishes. Its two chefs, Harry and Chris, have both had extensive experience in catering and hospitality, including working in Michelin-starred restaurants and educated to Level 3 NVQ standard. This means that whatever time of day you arrive for something to eat, you will be greeted with good-quality food and customer service.
Squisito is open every day from 9am; closing times are 5pm (Sundays to Wednesdays) and 4pm (Thursdays to Saturdays). To make a booking, or for more information, please visit https://www.squisito.co.uk, ring 01273 958890 or email email@example.com.
Whether you are visiting Lewes for the first or fiftieth time, I hope this article will help you to make a better informed decision on where to eat in Lewes. Who knows, maybe you can squeeze in a quick self-guided walking tour after your meal. I wish you happy eating!
By Annabel Barker